NS: How has Singapore developed as a destination in the past 10 years?
MM: Singapore has such a forward thinking government, constantly looking at how they can add value for visitors. If you go back 10 years, there was no Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Resorts World Sentosa, with Sentosa itself still in its infancy. If you look at the country now, Singapore is a completely different place – the variety of activities available is on par with any major capital in the world.
NS: What do you think is the country’s biggest strength as a destination?
MM: Singapore is a modern 21st century city with amazing infrastructure and user friendliness. It has achieved all this without losing its soul and culture. I love the character of neighbourhoods like Little India, Joo Chiat and Chinatown, where traditional restaurants and shops sit side-by-side modern equivalents.
NS: What emerging trends excite you the most?
MM: For me it’s the emergence of a modern food culture. Singapore has always been known as a destination for great local food and a melting pot of different cultures. This created the Singaporean cuisine, which is difficult to match in terms of variety and quality. Now there is also an emerging breed of young operators in the F&B scene, opening up a range of exciting new concepts. You can get great coffee on par with anything from Melbourne; you can have cocktails in bars you would once only find in London or New York, and enjoy fantastic meals in restaurants that are considered some of the best in Asia and the world. I think the Michelin Guide’s launch in Singapore later this year is recognition of that.
NS: How has the city changed since you arrived?
MM: I have only been in Singapore for two years but in that time I have definitely seen new food streets develop, such as Keong Saik Road and Duxton Hill. Also the Botanic Gardens has recently received worldwide recognition after being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for what is an amazing green space in the middle of the city. Probably the biggest thing in the past two years is the opening of the new National Gallery Singapore. This is a truly beautiful gallery housed in the old Parliament house and Supreme Court building right in front of the Padang.
NS: Describe the Conrad guest experience.
MM: Conrad Hotels & Resorts offer access to life as you want to live it. It’s a place to experience service and style on your own terms. A place to connect with the world. A place to stay inspired. We offer our guests one-of-a-kind experiences with sophisticated, locally-inspired surroundings. Service that is more than personal, it’s intuitive. And connections to people and places around the corner, and half way around the world. This is brought to life by our Hhonors app that allows you to choose your own room and check in digitally. Our Conrad Concierge App allows you to personalise your stay before you arrive and while you are on the property, enhancing your Conrad experience.
NS: What is unique about the hotel?
MM: Conrad Centennial Singapore has a great location in the heart of Marina Bay. We are surrounded by shopping malls, offering over 1,000 shops and 300 restaurants. Within the hotel we have an amazing Asian Art collection, with over 3400 pieces on display. We are the only hotel in Singapore to offer a digital concierge service, where you can customise the details of your stay like selecting your preferred bath amenities (Shanghai Tang, Aromatherapy, Tara Smith or Refinery for Men), ordering room service or selecting your favourite type of pillow.
NS: What would be your ideal day in the city?
MM: For me an ideal day would start with a cycle ride around Marina Bay and along East Coast Park. This would be followed by a little shopping to escape the midday heat. Then I would take the kids to Gardens by the Bay or Sentosa in the afternoon, followed by dinner out in a nice restaurant in somewhere like Duxton Hill or Keong Saik Road.
NS: What do you do on your day off?
MM: I usually go for a long cycle in the early morning with my usual cycling group and then hang out with my family, either at the Botanic Gardens or the Zoo, where we have an annual pass. To end the day, we often enjoy a lovely outdoor BBQ with friends and family.
NS: What is your favourite local food. And where do you buy it?
MM: I love Satay. My favourite place for this is Satay by the Bay. We usually buy it there and take it away to Marina Barrage where we eat it while watching people flying their kites. You get an amazing view of the city from there in the early evening as the sun sets over the bay.
NS: Does Singapore offer something for everyone? And why?
MM: Yes I think it does, as there is such a huge array of things to do. If you are a shopaholic, there are never-ending shopping malls; if you like culture and history, Singapore is flooded with it. Singapore is also a food paradise with different cuisines for all. Sport enthusiasts will find endless activities here – parks, great golf courses, beaches, etc. So yes, there is something for everyone in Singapore.
NS: Which annual event excites you the most?
MM: It is has to be the F1 race in September for the excitement and adrenaline that it brings. We are right in the middle of it here at Conrad Centennial Singapore, located just yards from the track.
NS: What can Conrad guests expect in 2016?
MM: Guests can look forward to further enhancements of our digital platforms, with keyless entry beginning in some of our hotels on top of digital check in. Late last year we launched the brand new programme Conrad 1-3-5, a modern, integrated approach to content offering our guests curated one-hour, three-hour and five-hour itineraries in 12 cities. This year, we will be expanding to more cities as well as adding new experiences and itineraries for existing cities. Conrad Hotels & Resorts is also continuing to expand in the region including India, China and the Philippines.
Jamie Yeo is a household name in Singapore, famous for